In the ‘90s, Robert Schneider co-founded the Elephant 6 Recording Company, a loosely defined music collective that brought the world indie darlings like Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, and Schneider’s own band The Apples In Stereo, but these days he has mostly retired from his music career to pursue something even cooler: teaching and studying math at Emory University. Alright, it’s probably not cooler to most of us, but Atlanta Magazine has published a profile on Schneider that digs into why he decided to make this career change and how he thinks his time with The Apples relates to his new gig researching and teaching math.
Apparently, it all goes back to a moment in 1999 when Schneider—who says he didn’t have any interest in math before and didn’t study math in school—wanted to fix an old tape machine he was using to record an album. He went to a RadioShack and bought some equipment, and in a book about repairing electronics he read the equation for Ohm’s Law, which is that voltage equals the current flow multiplied by resistance (V=IR). It dawned on him that all of his musical work, everything he had ever done for his career, resulted from this simple equation, telling Atlanta Magazine, “it blew my mind.”
He says he then began studying math as a hobby, and on the advice of his wife Marci, he started taking community college math classes for fun. By 2012, he had earned an undergraduate degree in math and decided pursue a graduate degree rather than return to The Apples In Stereo. “You can do more than one really deep and intensive thing in your life,” he tells Atlanta Magazine, adding, “If you’re not open to your life going in different directions, it’s just going to level off until you die.”
The whole piece is worth a read for anyone interested in the endlessly surprising legacy of the Elephant 6 bands or for anyone baffled why anyone would learn about math when nobody is forcing them, and you can find it at this link.